LHC suspends ECP arrest warrants for Imran Khan, Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry

Bailable warrants were issued by ECP's four-member bench last week

Shabbir Dar
PTI leaders Imran Khan, Asad Umar, and Fawad Chaudhry. — AFP/PID/File
PTI leaders Imran Khan, Asad Umar, and Fawad Chaudhry. — AFP/PID/File
  • Court directs ECP to carry on with contempt proceedings.
  • Warns Fawad of action if he targets judiciary once again.
  • Warrants were issued after PTI leaders skipped hearings.

RAWALPINDI: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench on Monday suspended PTI chief Imran Khan, senior vice president Fawad Chaudhry and party secretary general Asad Umar's bailable arrest warrants issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The warrants were suspended by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan hearing the PTI leaders' plea against the arrest warrants. The warrants were issued by ECP's four-member bench, last week, and were challenged by the PTI leaders today.

Even though the court suspended the warrants, it directed the ECP to carry on with its contempt proceedings against the PTI leaders.

During the hearing, the court remarked "PTI seeks relief from the judiciary but targets them in the media".

"Targeting the judiciary in the media is contempt of court. If Fawad Chaudhry targets the courts in the media again the contempt of court proceedings will be launched," warned the court. 

Justice Khan remarked that Fawad during an interview with an international channel laid the blame for corruption on the media. He also told the PTI leader's lawyer that the court was granting him relief right now but he should tell his client not to lay all the blame on the courts. 

"Enough is enough, the court will no longer show restraint," remarked Justice Khan. 

Fawad to challenge warrants

Last week, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, immediately after the ECP's decision, announced he would challenge the warrants in the high court and file a contempt plea against ECP.

"ECP's decision to issue arrest warrants in contempt of the high court's decision," said Fawad. He said that the case was scheduled for January 17 and the verdict was announced today (January 16) in violation of the rules.

The PTI leader alleged that it was a "biased" decision of the ECP.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had also allowed the electoral body to proceed with contempt proceedings against Khan, Umar, and Fawad.

All three PTI leaders did not appear in the last hearing of the case. 

PIT lawyer Ali Bukhari said that Fawad’s mother was seriously ill and he was with her in a hospital in Lahore, while Imran Khan's doctors had advised him against travelling.

Asad Umar’s lawyer Anwar Mansoor said the PTI secretary general was to attend the hearing but he could not make it to the federal capital. 

Imran, Fawad and Umar were issued contempt notices by the ECP, in August last year, for insulting the commission and its chief, Sikander Sultan Raja, in various public meetings, press conferences and interviews.